Here are three possible sentences. They are intended to convey compound possession—each user has his or her own separate account which has its own separate logs.
- I reviewed Mr. Smith’s and Ms. Doe’s account logs.
- I reviewed Mr. Smith’s and Ms. Doe’s accounts logs.
- I reviewed Mr. Smith’s and Ms. Doe’s accounts’ logs.
My reasoning for each option (right or wrong) is as follows:
- In #1, I believe that ‘account’ functions as an adjective modifying the type of logs.
- In #2, I think that since there are two distinct accounts, the word should be plural (but am unclear on its relationship to ‘logs’).
- In #3, each account possesses its own logs.
I know it is clearer to rewrite it to something such as:
I reviewed the logs for Mr. Smith’s and Ms. Doe’s accounts.
Even so, which of the above three are correct (if any)? Why?
In US English, “account logs” is the most natural of those three options (though “account” is not an adjective, but rather an attributive noun). *”Accounts logs” is not grammatical in US English (because we don’t use regular plural nouns as attributive nouns), though I believe that UK English allows it. (Disclaimer: I’m American.) “[Their] accounts’ logs” is grammatical, but awkward; we don’t usually think of an account (which is an inanimate and even rather abstract object) as possessing things.
Incidentally, we almost invariably say “Mr. Smith and Ms. Doe’s [plural noun]” rather than “Mr. Smith’s and Ms. Doe’s [plural noun]”, even when Mr. Smith and Ms. Doe have separate [noun]-s.